When it comes to exercise regimens, there are conflicting opinions scattered around the internet. People want answers to questions like, what is the best time to workout? Don’t empty stomach workouts burn more fat? But won’t I have more energy in the evening? Unfortunately, there is no set rule when it comes to exercise and diet, as it largely depends on your lifestyle. However, there are some logic-backed differences between working out in the mornings vs the evenings.
The perks of morning exercise, and why it might not be for everyone:
- Higher potential to burn fat
- Our stomachs are empty when we wake up in the morning, so the body primarily uses fuel from the fat stored within itself, as opposed to the energy from carbs consumed throughout the day. Moreover, studies have shown that testosterone levels are higher at the start of the day, enabling the body to burn more calories.
- Improves energy & focus
- Exercising in the morning helps regulate cortisol levels, which in turn clears the mind for the day ahead. The endorphin release at the start of the day can lead to better levels of energy, improved focus and alertness, and reduced stress. A study by the Appalachian State University found that individuals who workout in the mornings tend to power down faster at night, paving the way for increased secretion of the growth hormone.
- Helps maintain a routine
- Studies show that individuals who incorporate exercise into their morning routines tend to be more organized throughout the day. Therefore, meal times, break hours, and bedtime hours tend to stay consistent throughout the week.
AM exercise sessions come with a small list of cons as well
- Higher risk of injuries
- At the start of the day, our muscles and joints tend to be stiffer than they are later in the day. This could lead to injuries in the form of pulled muscles, dislocated joints, fractured ligaments, etc.
- Faster rate of fatigue/exhaustion
- Since the body is still in a fasted state when you wake up, expending fuel sources stored in the body can lead to extreme exhaustion, making way for dizziness and nausea. Plus, not all individuals have the energy to push themselves in the early hours. This is why post-workout nutrition should never be neglected, regardless of the time of day.
If working out in the morning doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you might want to try exercising in the evening. Apart from the obvious extra energy you are likely to have later in the day, there are several advantages to PM workout regimes.
Why you should try evening workouts:
- Less risk of injury & fatigue
- Because you move around throughout the day and perform basic activities quite a bit by the evening, muscles and joints tend to be almost 20% more flexible than they are at the start of the day. Coupled with muscles that have already warmed up throughout the day, the potential to perform better is higher.
- Stress release & improved sleep
- Hitting the gym after a long, hard day at work is an ideal way to blow off stress. People who enjoy evening workouts report an improved mental state at the end of their day. To top it off, exercise warms your body up, making it easier to enter a state of relaxation before going to bed.
The shortcomings of evening exercise routines
- Limited time/energy
- Work days can be quite unpredictable, and one may not always have the energy or hours left in their day to hit the gym and expend more energy at the end of a long work day.
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Although body temperature does stay elevated and promote relaxation of the body, some may find it harder to fall asleep due to elevated heart rate and metabolic rate. However, incorporating stretches or yoga after a workout may help counter this shortcoming.
- Limited options
- Working out in the evenings is a popular norm among various demographics, but not all fitness facilities remain open in the later hours of the evening. Also, outdoor runs and training sessions, particularly after dark, may not be the safest option for all individuals (women, teenagers, senior citizens, etc.). This could add to the lack of motivation.
It doesn’t necessarily matter when you make time for your exercise as long as you design a routine that suits your daily schedule and follow it religiously along with a healthy diet. If your evenings tend to be busy, the AM would be a better time for you. Bear in mind to stick to a good routine so you get adequate hours of sleep at night. If your day starts early, maybe working out in the evenings would fit your schedule better.
Written by GUADS intern Sara with contributions from (https://www.sportskeeda.com/)